She said, "I'm so angry with God."
I listened and encouraged her to tell God how she felt. Not to hold back anything.
When bad things happen, people often get angry with God. I've been angry with God myself on many occasions, and I've told God, "I'm angry with you." I've also said, "It's just not fair."
Perhaps you've been in a similar place, or one day will be.
It's impossible to live in this world and not experience trauma and tragedy: a child develops a life-threatening or life-limiting illness. Someone close to us dies suddenly. Family conflict worsens; it doesn't ease.
And we think, "It's so unfair. We've done our part: believed in God, gone to church, said our prayers, given tithes on our earnings, lived good lives.
But God's let us down, failing to keep His part of the bargain, which is to protect us and our loved ones from pain and suffering.
So, we do what's natural, human, and blame God, saying God didn't keep His part of the bargain. And we rail at Him. We might even stop believing in God, thinking Him indifferent, cruel or non-existent.
But the truth is that God has never promised us suffering-free lives. We'll all know heartbreak. Perhaps even many, many times.
That's why the cross is important to me. Why I cling to the cross, which, to paraphrase the apostle Paul, human beings use for death, but God uses for life.
The passion and death of Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world, show us a God who opens His arms wide to human suffering, even death on the cross, taking it all to Himself and transforming it.
Jesus suffers, dies, and is buried.
But on the third day, God raises Him from the grave, demonstrating that His love is stronger than anything bad that could ever happen to us in this world, even death. Nothing can separate us from Him and His love for us in Jesus Christ.
There will be a suffering and death for all of us. For all of those we love.
But God promises us that He'll hold us up in the midst of our traumas and tragedies. God will journey with us until we reach that place, that new world, where, Isaiah prophesies, "suffering and sorrow will be no more."
In the Easter acclamation, we declare our faith, "Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia."
Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High God, is risen--over the worst things that can ever happen to us here. That's the hope of the Christian faith. That's the Gospel.
Yes, I'll still get angry with God. I'll still say it's not fair when something bad happens to me or a family member or a parishioner.
And I'll let God know how I feel, because I'm in relationship with Him, a deep and close one. I know He can handle my feelings, even my anger and disappointment.
And I know, by faith, that I can handle anything that comes my way in this life, with His help.